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Sleep Deprivation, Health and Safety in Midwifery: Caring for Ourselves, Mothers and Others

Sleep deprivation is familiar to every midwife, we see it every day in ourselves and in our clients. But did you know that chronic sleep deprivation is associated with serious long term health issues of obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, depression, and increased all cause mortality? Did you know that staying awake for more than 16 hours causes cognitive and motor function performance testing results similar to someone who is legally drunk? In addition, studies have found prolonged wakefulness in healthcare workers results in increased rates of medical errors, diagnostic errors, needlestick injuries, measured attentional failures, and post-shift motor vehicle crashes.  

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends 7 or more hours of sleep on a regular basis, yet 31.7% of healthcare workers report getting less than 6 hours of sleep on a regular basis. Studies on midwives have found higher reported rates of burnout, and mental/physical exhaustion in those with higher levels of chronic sleep loss. How can we protect ourselves from the dangers of sleep deprivation? How can we protect the women and families in our care from the dangers of their sleep loss and our own? How can we protect our profession from exhaustion and burnout? Join us to discuss the very real dangers of sleep loss and the ways to protect ourselves and those around us.

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